Chrissy Teigen always keeps it real when it comes to plastic surgery. Last November, Teigen shared on social media that she'd undergone eyebrow transplant surgery, and she recently uploaded a post-op selfie to Instagram, in which she showed off her seriously long brow hairs.
"Blessing and a curse, this eyebrow procedure. 10/10 would do again lol," wrote Teigen in the caption. Naturally, fans were curious about the procedure, and many asked questions in the comments section. Namely, people wanted to know what exactly is an eyebrow hair transplant and why someone would get one in the first place.
Ahead, find out what an eyebrow transplant is, how much it costs, and what experts have to say about its pros and cons. (Related: All Your Brow Lift Questions, Answered)
What Is An Eyebrow Transplant?
"An eyebrow transplant is a procedure in which grafts of hair, including the roots and follicles, are harvested from the scalp and placed in the eyebrow area to thicken the brows or replace hair that has been lost in that area," explains Rebecca Marcus, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD. Individual hairs are extracted from the back of the scalp and transplanted to match natural eyebrow growth (i.e. at an angle), adds Amir Karam, M.D., double-board certified facial plastic surgeon.
Hair loss — including on the brows — can happen for many reasons, such as genetics, aging, and over-plucking (hi, everyone in the 90s!), says Dr. Karam. Other health conditions can contribute to eyebrow hair loss, such as alopecia areata, thyroid disorders, and vitamin deficiencies, adds Dr. Marcus. Trauma after injury or surgery can also lead to thinning or permanent loss of hair in the area, notes Alexander Zuriarrain M.D., F.A.C.S., quadruple board-certified plastic surgeon of Zuri Plastic Surgery. (Read more: The Most Common Causes of Hair Loss, Explained)
The procedure is typically done under local anesthesia to the eyebrow region as well as the parts of the scalp where hair is taken from. It's a "comfortable procedure," aside from the pain of the anesthetic injection, says Dr. Marcus. Although, it can be a lengthy procedure, since hairs are taken individually. On the plus side, it requires minimal downtime, and most patients are fully recovered within a few days.
Eyebrow Transplant Benefits
There are many benefits to the procedure, including the fact that it's permanent, so patients should never have to worry about patchy, sparse spots again. Their new, full-looking brows will last forever, according to Dr. Karam. It may also be preferable to other non-invasive methods, such as using makeup, tinting, and tattooing, he adds.
Along with aesthetics, bushy brows offer a real perk, especially for those with an active lifestyle. "Thicker eyebrows can be cosmetically desirable but also serve a purpose by keeping sweat and moisture from dripping down into the eyes," notes Dr. Marcus.
The results are not instantaneous, though, as it usually takes about three months for the normal hair growth cycle to kick in, says Dr. Marcus. Think of the procedure like transplanting a tree or plant from one spot in your yard to another. The follicles will undergo an initial "shock" at their new location, but will ultimately grow back, a process that can take six to 12 months in total, explains Dr. Karam.
Eyebrow Transplant Downsides
You'll want to ensure you do your research and find a highly-skilled surgeon who specializes in eyebrow hair transplants specifically. "Potential complications may include hair growing in the wrong direction or with a different length or texture than that of the existing eyebrows," says Dr. Marcus. "It is also possible that some of the grafts placed may not take, which could result in a patchy appearance to the brows," he adds.
"There are certain hair follicles that will die along the process, and the patient will shed that hair," says Dr. Zuriarrain. This may require multiple hair grafting procedures to provide the results a patient is looking for. There's also a risk of infection and scarring, which is standard of any surgical procedure.
New brows will also require a "fair amount of care and maintenance," such as regular trims, notes Dr. Karam. That's something Teigen is seemingly experiencing thanks to her new, lengthy brow hairs, based on her recent Instagram post. Hair taken from the scalp will continue to grow as long as the hair on your head does, which is much longer than eyebrow hairs. It will also gray faster, which might require dye sessions to match the rest of the strands, adds Dr. Karam
Finally, an eyebrow hair transplant is a pricey procedure, and the cost varies based on your location and the experience of the surgeon you choose. The price typically ranges between $4,000 and $10,000, according to all three experts.
That said, most patients are thrilled with their results, says Dr. Karam. And the prospect of permanently selfie-worthy brows à la Teigen is definitely a plus if you can afford it.